Let’s talk about mobility aids so that’s things like walkers, walking sticks, crutches, wheelchairs of all the various kinds. Anything that helps us get around in the chronic illness community a lot of people use them not all wheelchair users have to be in a wheelchair full time. Not everybody who uses a walking stick needs it all the time and I think is this big gap between what society expects and what is needed.
I’ve heard of people getting abused, getting shouted at even violence because of parking in disabled parking bays! So, it’s no wonder that we feel a little bit hesitant to go outside with a walker when we’re young or with two walking sticks or on crutches. People come over and say, “What have you done to your leg?” like it’s impossible to believe someone young would need mobility aids for any other reason!
It’s hard to explain and strangers I don’t know what it is it’s like normal society just kind of gets put to the side and we get asked so many personal questions. So sometimes it’s nice to be incognito and to pretend you’re okay, “oh I can walk that far oh I’ll be fine to go around the shop!”
In my own journey I didn’t get on well with mobility aids when I first started needing them. When I first needed mobility aids, I was in my early 20s and I woke up one morning I couldn’t feel my legs. I went to my GP who immediately sent me to A&E I thought this is something serious! I spent I think it was about ten days in hospital having scans and being poked and prodded.
When I came out the physiotherapist said in order to go home, they wanted me to have a walker. I just flat out refused no way would I be seen with one of them, so I was given two walking sticks that was our compromise. However, those walking sticks hadn’t been put to the right height so actually when I had been walking, I’d thrown my balance off.
So, then I was given two crutches to make me stand up straight and I got asked so many times a day what have you done to your foot? Have you hurt your ankle? Did you fall over was it a sports injury? I hated it and eventually got put to just one walking stick and I was grateful for that. I managed that from doing my physio exercises as told and just doing my best and getting my strength back up. In the end, I got to a point where I couldn’t feel my feet, but I can still walk because I am used to it.
When I’m in the house, which I am most of the time, I furniture walk which physiotherapists hate but I tend to just hold onto furniture or the wall if I feel a bit dizzy or something. So, I don’t use a walking stick around the house but when I’m out and about I either use a walking stick or my wheelchair. This usually depends on how tired I am how ill I’m feeling, how much pain I’m in and what we’re doing. If we’re going somewhere where we’re just going be walking a few steps probably walking stick, but if I’m going to need to do a lot of walking, I might go for the wheelchair.
So, it’s all dependent on where my health is on that day and it’s very changeable, and most people with chronic illness are the same. Now I’ve come to the understanding that having these things having a wheelchair it just makes life so much better and it gives me a lot more independence and freedom. However, I am not sure people in general society understand that so that’s why I think it’s important we talk about mobility aids.
The wheelchair I have I got from Amazon, and that wheelchair is perfect for me it’s perfect for just throwing in the car and going out. If I’m going somewhere like a convention where I’m going to be meeting lots of actors or there’s somewhere where there’s lots of queuing in my wheelchair is where I’ll be. This is because I can’t stand, and I can’t walk for as long as would be needed and if I didn’t have the wheelchair, I wouldn’t be able to do those things.
I wouldn’t be able to go out shopping for myself I wouldn’t be able to go and visit my best friend down in London or to go to conventions with all my friends and go and have fun if I didn’t have my wheelchair. This is because that wheelchair gives me a little bit of independence, I still rely on someone to push me, but it gets me out of the house and it’s such a big thing for your mental health to get out for the house.
If I’m stuck in the house for too long you start to get cabin fever so having that wheelchair gives me an option to go out on days when I wouldn’t be able to go out. My walking stick gives me the confidence be able to walk it gives me that kind of confidence that people aren’t going just bash into me and I’m going to end up on my bum in the supermarket! People will be able to see I walk slower it’s like a visual thing I’m disabled, and I get you don’t look sick so often but that’s the thing with invisible illnesses you can’t see them!
But I am so grateful for my mobility aids now they get me out of the house whenever I can go, I’m out there I love meeting people and going out and doing fun things and if I didn’t have my wheelchair and my walking stick I would be lost. I think everything happens for a reason and I will say that I definitely regret not listening to that first physiotherapist because if I had done I wouldn’t have needed the crutches!
I would say listen to your body if you are having a lot of falls go and see someone who can help find out why you are falling and get you something to help. It might be that you need a mobility aid and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I think that society sometimes makes out if you need a mobility device you must be old you must be really, really disabled not a little bit disabled a lot disabled and you better look sick! You’ve got to tick these boxes that society has kind of made up for us but the fact is if you can’t walk very far and because you can’t walk very far you can’t get out maybe having a mobility scooter is something that would get you out of the house and give you a life?
Everybody wants that whether it’s because you’ve got learning disabilities whether you have walking issues whatever it is, we all want to be able to do as much for ourselves as humanly possible. I think we need to change the way we speak to ourselves we need to change our attitudes. If you need something if you need a medication if you need a walking aid if you need something use it don’t be ashamed of that thing that thing that’s going to give you a little bit of independence.
Don’t feel guilty about if you use different aids on different days like me it can get a little bit scary just because people judge. It just feels so overwhelming sometimes, but I think to stop using those things because of that fear it then feeds into society that well they were right and I don’t agree with that.
I think trying to spread awareness is incredibly important and if we stop going out because we’re scared of using a mobility aid because of what people will think then they’ll never get used to seeing us. If we hide away our wheelchairs and our walkers and our tubes and drips and things because they make people uncomfortable, we’re never going to push Society forwards. It’s up to us to pave the way.
We as a community are letting these people that we don’t know tell us what to do but if we need this stuff why say no? I would love to get in a conversation about this subject I would love it so please leave me your opinions and your thoughts down below. Let’s talk about mobility aids and stop letting society keep us locked away.